Bay Area Beats | KALW

Bay Area Beats

Bay Area Beats: Del the Funky Homosapien

Oct 10, 2018
Bo Walsh

In 1991 Rapper Del the Funky Homosapien became the first member of Oakland’s Hieroglyphics hip-hop collective be introduced to the world with his debut album “I Wish My Brother George Was Here.” For Del, music has always been a family affair.

Courtesy of Alia Sharrief

A young musician in Oakland is making waves in the Muslim community: Alia Sharrief. She’s part of a new generation of Muslim hip hop artists following in the footsteps of people like Yasiin Bey, best known by his stagename, MosDef, Lupe Fiasco, Qtip, Ali Shaheed Mohamed, the list goes on.

Bay Area Beats: Tajai Massey

Aug 30, 2018
Bo Walsh / KALW News

For the past 25 years, Oakland’s Hieroglyphics crew has been a staple in the Bay Area underground hip hop scene. As one of the founding members of Oakland’s Hieroglyphics, Tajai Massey and his group Souls of Mischief became household names with their classic hit "‘93 til Infinity". In this edition of Bay Area Beats Tajai talks about juggling his careers in music and architecture as well as the importance of the Hiero Day Festival which has quickly become an Oakland tradition.

Bay Area Beats: Lydia Pense

Aug 8, 2018
Courtesy Lydia Pense

Lydia Pense is the lead singer of the San Francisco soul band "Cold Blood.” They were one of the first acts signed to legendary San Francisco promoter Bill Graham's “Fillmore  Records." Along with Oakland's Tower of Power, Cold Blood helped usher in the Bay Area's brass heavy funk sound of the 70's known as "East Bay Grease” while Lydia would be forever compared and linked to the late Janis Joplin as two of the pioneering female lead vocalists to emerge from San Francisco’s late 60’s music scene.

Bay Area Beats: ASTU

Jul 31, 2018
Lara Kaur


With the 2018 release of her debut album “Patterns”;  Eritrean-American singer and songwriter ASTU explores her experiences of love, redemption and black womanhood. The songstress’ path has taken her from being a former minister in Oklahoma all the way to finding a new sense of self and belonging in the city of Oakland.

Bay Area Beats: DJ QBERT

Jul 19, 2018
Bo Walsh


Richard Quitevis is better known as DJ QBERT. He's been a pioneer in the art of DJ turntablism for close to 30 years.

Courtesy of Kev Choice

Pianist, composer, and MC Kev Choice represents Oakland hard. He started learning the piano in seventh grade at Westlake Junior High near Lake Merritt and recently composed a piece for the Oakland Symphony. Though he’s done stints in Illinois, New Orleans, and Atlanta, he considers the Town his artistic and spiritual home.

Bay Area Beats: Zakiya Harris

Jun 26, 2018

Oakland singer-songwriter Zakiya Harris performs under the name Sh8peshifter. She came to that name and her musical career when her personal and professional life fell apart.

Bay Area Beats: Aki Kumar

Jun 25, 2018
Evelyne Balliner

South Bay bluesman Aki Kumar started his musical career after taking harmonica lessons at the School of Blues in San Jose. He built up his music cred playing show after show at blues joints around the Bay.

Bay Area Beats: The Pendletons

May 29, 2018
Courtesy of The Pendletons


The Pendletons are a boogie-funk and modern soul project made up of E Da Boss and Trailer Limon. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, The Pendletons share with us their musical influences including San Francisco’s funk DJ scene.

Bay Area Beats: Oakland Future Trio

May 17, 2018
Courtesy of the Oakland Future Trio

Ari Carpenter, Caleb Sankoh, and Mikhi Woodley became best friends and bandmates in middle school. They’ve been playing together as the Oakland Future Trio for the past seven years.

Bay Area Beats: NRVS LVRS

Apr 10, 2018
Courtesy of NRVS LVRS

San Francisco band NRVS LVRS is the married music duo of Bevin Fernandez and Andrew Gomez. The couple released their sophomore album “Electric Dread” in 2017 and recently returned from touring Europe to promote the project.

Courtesy of Faisal Zedan


Oakland’s Faisal Zedan is a musician from a village in southern Syria. Growing up, his family loved music, and he grew to be obsessed with Arabic drums called darabukkas.

Bay Area Beats: DiaPa’Son

Jan 31, 2018
Courtesy Maria De La Rosa.


Son Jarocho is a style of Mexican folkloric music that’s been growing roots here in California for at least 50 years. The music grew out of the historical mix of Indigenous, Spanish, and African cultures in the state of Veracruz, which borders the Gulf of Mexico. It’s often practiced at a type of gathering called a fandango, where the community shares music, dance, poetry, and food.


Bay Area Beats: Sahba Aminikia

Jan 24, 2018
Matthew Washburn

Contemporary classical composer Sahba Aminikia came to San Francisco as a refugee. Born and raised in Iran in the '80s, he left as a young man to study music in Russia, and was a graduate student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Bay Area Beats: Eli Conley

Dec 21, 2017
Brooke Porter

Eli Conley is a roots singer/songwriter and the founder of Queer Country West Coast, a music series here in the Bay Area featuring queer folk and country artists.

"Sheila E. performs at the Jan. 20, 2013, Green Inaugural Ball" by CC Flickr Brendan O'Hara/Newseum, resized and recropped

Oakland’s very own Sheila E. is revered by many as one of the greatest drummers of all time.

Local musician Kelly McFarling wrote her song “Atlanta” as an ode to her hometown, but she didn’t write it — or any other song, as a matter of fact — until she settled into her current home in San Francisco.

Bay Area Beats: Maya Songbird

Sep 28, 2017
Vanessa Crawford

Maya Songbird is an eclectic, electric, lo-fi musician born and raised in the Castro in San Francisco.

Photo courtesy of

Oakland-based singer/songwriter Quinn DeVeaux is one part city, one part country. When he plays with his band, the Blue Beat Review, he taps into Ray Charles and plays the savvy bandleader, burning his way through tune after tune and keeping his audience dancing late into the night.

Bay Area Beats: The Sons Of Soul Revivers

Aug 16, 2017
Courtesy of The Sons of Soul Revivers


The Sons Of Soul Revivers are a San Francisco-based quartet who come from a family of gospel singers; their songs are grounded in the gospel tradition.

Bay Area Beats: Bang Data

Aug 14, 2017
Odell Hussey / cropped and resized

When Deuce Eclipse and Juan Manuel Caipo joined forces in 2008, they wanted to make music that could do two things: provide information, and make beats that bang.

Bay Area Beats: Antique Naked Soul

Jun 13, 2017
photo courtesy Antique Naked Soul

Oakland's Antique Naked Soul describe themselves as a “beatbox-sing soul band,” which means they use only their own voices, looped on-stage, to create their sound, and their message.

Bay Area Beats: LoCura

Apr 12, 2017
Courtesy of Locura

The San Francisco band LoCura reflects the Bay Area’s mix of cultures and histories. Locura blends flamenco, Cuban son, reggae, cumbia and ska to make its own revolutionary party music. LoCura will join fellow Bay Area musical groups Bang Data and Rupa & The April Fishes at a benefit concert at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley this Friday, April 14th. For details, click here.

Courtesy of Sefa Karatekin, Anastasia Kuba, and Serina Koester / cropped and resized


The dozen-plus members of Oakland-based Balkan brass band Inspector Gadje come from all over the world. They’re serious students of Roma, sometimes known as “Gypsy” music, but none of them are actually Roma.


Bay Area Beats: Village Road Trio

Jan 26, 2017
Courtesy of Village Road Trio


The Village Road Trio reimagines classical music with folk influences. The trio shared some of their music in this edition of Bay Area Beats.

Bay Area Beats: Gautam Tejas Ganeshan

Dec 1, 2016
Courtesy of Guatam Tejas Ganeshan

Berkeley-based singer Gautam Tejas Ganeshan plays Carnatic music -- a devotional form traditional to South India. But he's bringing a local twist to this centuries-old sound.

Bay Area Beats: Marco Polo Santiago

Oct 31, 2016


Musician Marco Polo Santiago was raised in L.A., in a big Mexican-American family, with the sound of cumbia always in the background. He grew up to be a musician, but his tastes ran more to metal and hip hop than anything Latin.


Bay Area Beats: Diana Gameros

Sep 7, 2016

Berkeley-based singer songwriter Diana Gameros comes from Ciudad Juárez — a Mexican border town ripped apart by violent drug cartels. Gameros hasn’t been home in 13 years. 

Bay Area Beats: Lorin Benedict

Aug 25, 2016

Lorin Benedict is a theoretical and computational physicist at Lawrence Livermore labs. His work focuses on predicting the properties of materials—chiefly within extreme conditions of temperature and pressure, like at the center of giant planets and in stars. At the end of a long day studying the hearts of the stars, Benedict often finds himself heading out beneath their flickering light to sing the 12-bar blues in his double life as a Bay Area jazz singer.